impactnews: Crisis Communications – What to Do When a Crisis Hits Your Company

In today’s world, the crisis that hits your company is going to be something you have no idea is coming. It’s going to come on a random Tuesday. And it’s going to be something you have to react to, said John Maroon, President and CEO of Maroon PR, speaking at impactHR’s impactBreakfast executive roundtable last week.

At impactBreakfast, Maroon focused his discussion on how companies can get ahead of crises – like a network data breach, employee embezzlement, harassment incident or workplace violence – to protect their brand and maintain continuity of operations.

“The fact is, when crisis hits, many companies tend to make mistakes right out of the gate by pushing the crisis aside, pretending it doesn’t exist or even denying there’s a problem,” said Maroon. “Once it breaks internally or externally, respond quickly.”

Maroon detailed a six-point crisis communications plan:

  • Circle the wagons: companies should have a predetermined small group in place who will deal with the crisis and be one voice
  • Acknowledge the crisis: once the news breaks internally or externally, craft a holding statement right away detailing what you say to your staff and to the media as the story breaks to buy you some time
  • Communicate with your employees and general constituency (e.g., customers, clients, partners) through internal and external messaging
  • Work with your legal team on messaging and work to be as candid as possible with your organization via town halls and open doors
  • Spokesperson: have just one or two “faces and voices” for the organization – and no more
  • Unification: once responses and reactions are determined, have a unified voice across all platforms (internal statements, social media, external statements)

Maroon also noted companies should consider developing internal social media policies. “There’s a lot of times in crisis communications where PR and HR have to work hand in hand,” said Maroon.

“A social media policy for your company was nonsense a few years ago – you didn’t even think about it” he added.

“But we do now. It’s a tricky thing because it’s a matter of: who are you to tell someone what they can and can’t do on social media? It’s more about how their social media posts reflect on the business in which they work. And honestly, it’s not going to get easier – it will just get more complicated as these platforms grow.”


Updating and Building an Employee Handbook for Your Company

With the new year ahead, consider updating your current employee handbook – or if your company doesn’t have one yet, develop one from scratch.

With employment laws and regulations becoming more complex and often in flux, employee handbooks can be a valuable tool for companies to have in place to ensure regulatory compliance and optimize employee performance.

As state, federal and local laws change and evolve, companies are required to comply with these changes and ensure their employees know their rights and obligations. Employee handbooks should be updated to cover the changes in all applicable laws to the business.

So, it’s important to stay up on changes in employment laws (especially for companies with multistate operations) and include these changes in your handbook.

Handbooks also provide a framework for effectively managing people. They deal with everything from performance management to code of conduct (e.g., what kind of behavior is expected in the workplace). They also spell out, for example, your company’s inclement weather policy (per last week’s ice and snow in the Mid-Atlantic).

In essence, employee handbooks:

  • Help new employees learn and understand the procedures and policies of the company
  • Serve as a communication guide to share information about expectations, benefits eligibility and procedures related to employment
  • Help business owners and organization leadership avoid compliance trouble

Employee handbooks ultimately provide a clear, concise direction for employer and employee on how to proceed within the organization. It is a guide. Well-designed, updated handbooks make the employer-employee relationship and its related processes clear to management and employees.

If you’re interested in learning more about developing or updating an employee handbook, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

Workplace Drug Testing: What are the Policies in DC, MD and VA?

In the aftermath of the recent elections, ten states now have legalized marijuana for recreational use (Michigan just became the newest state to legalize for recreational use while Utah joined the majority of states permitting medical use).

With this development, the patchwork quilt of federal, state and local drug-use laws make it ever more complex for employer compliance, especially when it comes to workplace drug testing.

Here is a snapshot look at Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia’s policies for workplace drug testing:

Maryland employers may test employees for drugs and alcohol only if certain procedures are followed. If an employee tests positive for drugs and alcohol, an employer must:

  • Utilize a certified laboratory
  • Send written notice to the applicant within 30 days of the positive test result
  • Send a copy of the employer’s drug and alcohol policy
  • Send written notice of any disciplinary action the employer intends to take
  • Advise the applicant of the right to have the sample retested

If Maryland employers want to test their employees for drugs and alcohol, they must have a legitimate business reason, such as when an employee is involved in a workplace incident in which drugs or alcohol may have impaired or contributed to impaired judgment and performance.

Employers often have legitimate reasons to test employees for drug and alcohol use. It is important, however, particularly for employers with locations across the country, to take appropriate measures to ensure their drug testing processes are legal.

In contrast to Maryland, Virginia does not regulate employers’ drug and alcohol testing (except for employers that have state contracts of more than $10,000).

In addition, the District of Columbia does not explicitly allow or prohibit testing employees or applicants for drugs or alcohol (except for government employees).

If you have questions about drug testing and compliance, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

Baltimore, DC and Philly Rank in “Top 25 Best Cities for Jobs”

Baltimore, Washington, DC and Philadelphia all made’s recently released “25 Best Cities for Jobs in 2018.”

The rankings are based on a composite score of job openings, job satisfaction, median base salary and median home value. Washington, DC was ranked 12, Baltimore 17 and Philadelphia 18.

The ranking’s top four cities all lean toward the industrial Midwest: Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Rounding out the bottom three cities are Seattle, Richmond and Charlotte. Learn more

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us at impactHR, we wish you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!